Introducing one-to-watch Rob Edwards, and his returning single Lonely Lover
The stirring new single from the Adelaide-based artist marks his first material since his debut in 2017.
It starts with a nod of the head.
Cascading pianos give way to bassy undercurrents, and when the kit kicks into gear, so too does your foot, keeping pace. The irresistible power of Lonely Lover, the new single from Adelaide-based artist Rob Edwards, hinges on the tried-and-tested soul of decades since passed. It’s not as much a nostalgic throwback as a testament to the timelessness of melody, harmony and confessional lyricism.
These are skills Rob honed on the road, with the last four years a blur of cross-country touring alongside countless acts and festivals. A one-time semi-finalist in the Byron Bay Bluesfest Busking Competition, he’s more recently taken to stages across his state of South Australia, piecing together a band and putting his touring lessons onto wax. Old habits die hard, and even as “Lonely Lover” looms, Rob’s playing his way across the south coast with the new Space Jams Festival.
The power that makes him a touring mainstay underpins Lonely Lover – it’s the feeling that Edwards’ words spill without qualification, honest tracts that double as cathartic releases. A lived experience underpins his focus on mental health issues such as PTSD and depression, explored on his heart-wrenching 2017 single Just Anyone. His ensuing reflections might’ve been relegated to the road, but as he ends his four-year studio absence, it seems Rob is back for good.
In the years since that powerful debut, Rob’s graduated from Dallas Green disciple to a consummate cultivator of groove. On Lonely Lover, Edwards distils the R&B elements of John Mayer’s slicker late-’00s efforts, falling in amongst silky singer-songwriters such as Tom Misch and Jordan Rakei. It’s a figure cut with a strong, sensitive falsetto, one that furnishes the comfortably familiar trials in the lyrics.
As a phrase, ‘lonely lover’ feels not all that different from ‘single and ready to mingle,’ but as Edwards sings, the depth of his heartache slowly unfurls. It’s less of a want and more of a need; a means by which he can get over an old flame. He’s got love to give, if only he can break from the past and win back his lust for life.
If the arrangement feels like a throwback, casting Rob as an old-fashioned lothario, his deft pen places him firmly in the here-and-now. It’s longing but distant, more introspective than barbed or pointed. “I was thinking about you,” he repeats on the refrain, an unshakable thought, “I have to find somebody other than you.” The edges of Rob’s voice aren’t sanded away, his raw vocal performance straddling the line between sorely jilted and optimistic.
There’s a knowing tenor when he recalls “watching the sun go and come back,” adding in the sly energy of a quip as he continues: “I haven’t slept for days, but how would you know that?” Rob’s taking on a tough time, but even then, there’s the knowledge that he’s gotta get back to where he was – and the knowledge that he can do so. The song then slips into a glacial bridge, atmospheric and airy, before veering back to the groove and returning to his smooth lament.
Lonely Lover is a return to the fore for the Adelaide-based singer-songwriter, one that helps redefine his place in Australia’s vibrant scene. He offers some great insight into this evolution through his two Spotify playlists, both oriented about the need for ‘groove,’ pair with images of spinning vinyl and coffee machines. If those clean-cut images suggest a honed personal aesthetic, the playlists tap into something far wilder, housing more than 27 hours of influence and inspiration. They run the gamut from alt-R&B staples to the cutting edge of jazz, an amorphous genre incorporating soul, funk, Afrobeat and highlife.
Rob Edwards might be a Lonely Lover, but as that new single bursts forth, he’ll no doubt find he’s not the only one. Listen to the song below: